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City's leaders celebrate beginning of Faubion school construction

The $48 million project will bring a PK-8 school and teaching college together


TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The first official groundbreaking on the Faubion and Concordia joint school building that will be completed by the fall of 2017.  It was standing-room only at the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning for the future site of the building Faubion PK-8 School and Concordia University College of Education will share.

Many of the people who helped support the project through cooperation between a private university, public school and Trillium Family Services, as well as families and students, were on hand to celebrate the accomplishment.

“Faubion and Concordia, Concordia and Faubion — we have laid dormant as neighbors for years,” said LaShawn Lee, the principal at Faubion, who received a standing ovation when she took the stage. “Now our Northeast Portland community will become a treasure chest for all to see.”

The project is called the 3 to PhD Initiative, and the end result will be a $48.8 million, three-story building that will serve up to 800 students, from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. The building will also house Concordia students who are preparing to become future educators, allowing them to gain valuable experience in classroom settings.

The nearly 140,000-square-foot building will even include a health clinic and food pantry.

“This is a long-awaited day for me and all of us,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “It's good for Portland. This is how we turn hope into opportunity.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - LaShawn Lee, the principal at Faubion PK-8 School, received a standing ovation when she took the stage to address the crowd at an April 7 groundbreaking ceremony.This is a major project of the district's eight-year School Building Improvement Bond, which contributed $33.3 million to the new Faubion school. The bond is set up to rebuild three high schools and replace one grade school. It will also fix leaking and deteriorating roofs and make seismic safety, accessibility and science classroom improvements at up to 63 schools.

“This is the cornerstone of our school bond,” said Carole Smith, superintendent of Portland Public Schools.

This summer represents the busiest season so far for the bond, as 13 schools will receive facility improvements. Right now a total of 43 schools have received work and improvements through the bond. Construction continues on the modernization of Franklin and Roosevelt high schools, while planning and design is underway on Grant, with construction set to begin in the summer of 2017.

All involved in the building of the new Faubion school expect the partnership between the public school and Concordia to become a shining example that others will look to follow.

“This is going to be a national model, people will come to see how it grows and evolves,” said Charles Schlimpert, the president of Concordia University. “I told LaShawn she will need a concierge to handle all the visitors.”

In addition to the funds provided by the bond, Concordia has committed to fundraise more than $15 million to support some of the extra facilities, such as the pre-kindergarten program. But supporters said that without the voter-approved bond, the new school would never have gotten off the ground.

“We want to thank the city that passed the bond — that's awesome,” Schlimpert said.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Members of the Faubion School choir make their way to the stage for a performance alongside the Concordia University choir.Students and families in the community have been supportive of the project. U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland, who lives near the construction site, was also there to witness the groundbreaking moment.

“I have been privileged to watch this all take place,” Blumenauer said. “Over the last 30 years we have watched this community pull together.”

The new school will hold its grand opening in the fall of 2017.

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Update: This story was changed from its original version to reflect accurate numbers for the cost of the facility and the amount contributed by the bond.